National Geographic: The Soul of Spain


In the courtyard of Madrid's Royal Palace

the King's Guard recalls an era of

regal splendor, privilege

and might in Spain's past


But the saga of Juan Carlos is

distinctly modern

When he became king in 1975

he took the reins of government

from Europe's last fascist dictator

He was to inherit a land touched by

forces unlike the rest of Europe...

a land chosen by destiny to become the

greatest power on earth...

then doomed to lapse into decades of

decline and stagnation

In the extraordinary reign of Juan Carlos

Spain has leapt into the 20th century

Un, dos, y...

But as new ideas

concepts, and values flood in

the Spanish people cherish the ways

that are uniquely theirs

Mindful of the grandeur of their past

even as they create a new unknown future

they nurture and treasure the timeless


that illuminate the Soul of Spain

Spain. Dramatic, mysterious, complex

Greatness and tragedy resonate in

its soul

It gave the world the essence of

chivalry in Don Quixote...

the quintessence of cruelty

in the Inquisition

Long after the rest of Europe


Spain remained poor and agrarian

Hereditary noblemen and wealthy families

still owned much of the land

controlled it by the laws and privileges

of their class

Inward looking

the people proudly clung to their

ancient heritage, customs, and beliefs

Who are they?

Where did they come from?

What shaped the Spanish soul?

Lying astride the Atlantic and

Mediterranean on the Iberian Peninsula

Spain has been called "that country

ripped from hot Africa

soldered crudely to inventive Europe

First settled by wandering tribes

from Europe and North Africa

it would be colonized by Phoenicians

Carthaginians, and Greeks

By 19 B.C.

the triumphant Romans dominated the


They would leave their indelible imprint

of architecture, law, and language

Later, Roman missionaries would

introduce Christianity

Led by Arab warriors

in 711 Berbers from North Africa swept

into Spain

Soon their rule and Muslim religion

gripped the land

Working side by side

Muslim, Christian

and Jewish scholars relit the torch of


that led Europe out of the Dark Ages

Cordoba, capital of Muslim Spain

became Europe's most cultured city

boasting half a million inhabitants

when London and Paris were only villages

But through the eight centuries of

Muslim rule

the Christians waged war to reconquer

the land

until only Granada survived as a

Muslim stronghold

In 1492 the last Muslim king

surrendered his crown to the Catholic

sovereigns Ferdinand and Isabella

Through war and Inquisition Spain would

expel not only the Muslims

but all Jews who refused to be baptized

Seeking a westward route to

the riches of India

Ferdinand and Isabella would provide

Christopher Columbus with financial


On the 33rd day of his voyage

Columbus landed in the New World

and claimed it in the name of the

Spanish crown

Spain would conquer huge empires

in the Americas

Gold wrested from native peoples would

finance wars in faraway Europe...

and Spain would become the world's

mightiest power

But two centuries later

its navy defeated

its empire in shambles

Spain's era of supremacy was over

A long eclipse had begun

With the Second Republic torn

by political turmoil

Spain is plunged into bloody civil war

An alliance of army officers,


and the Catholic Church joins the

fascists in rebellion

They are supported by

Hitler and Mussolini

in a conflict that becomes a dress

rehearsal for the Second World War

The death toll from combat

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    "National Geographic: The Soul of Spain" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 26 Jan. 2021. <>.

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